Just when things were getting really bad for Arsenal, a ghost from successes past, Santi Cazorla, has to remind the world that he never said goodbye.
If you were to ask me right now who I would bring back to Arsenal of any player in the last ten years, I would not hesitate for a moment in saying Santi Cazorla. Not even a moment of hesitation. And I bring this up, of course, because Cazorla recently spoke out about how much he loves his former club, and how he never really got to say goodbye.
On an emotional level, it still hurts. Cazorla was such a key asset of this club and he still, as we speak, has not been replaced.
Dani Ceballos was supposed to be the next Santi Cazorla. I was quick to draw the comparisons myself, even knowing deep down that I absolutely shouldn’t. Since then, the most Santi Cazorla-esque moment of Ceballos’ time is still mired in the only match where he has been comparable to his countryman—Burnley.
I wouldn’t say that Ceballos has been a disappointment, because asking anyone to replace Cazorla is a dicey endeavor from the get-go.
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Of course, I don’t know how many people would have followed up on that obscene comparison if Ceballos hadn’t shown us all what he could do in that truly inspired display against Burnley. It’s been a game of hits and misses since then, without another full performance to really point to and declare a Cazorla-esque performance from Ceballos.
Funny how that works. Since Ceballos teased what he was capable of, everything else that inevitably falls short of that is dubbed below average. Again, I hesitate to use the word ‘disappointment,’ but I’m also struggling to find a better word for it.
Just thinking of Santi Cazorla again, as he made us do with his recent statements, makes me realize how hard it is going to be to replicate what Cazorla gave us—a steady stream of chances, constant optimism, endless effort and enough razzle-dazzle to change the face of a match. You’d think that Ceballos had the power to provide that, given his early performances, and maybe he still does. But for now, let’s all just miss Cazorla that little bit more.
I still have some seriously high hopes for Dani Ceballos and I have a sneaking suspicion that they will yet be realized. And, if not… well then we can look elsewhere. But it hasn’t come to that yet, and I still believe that Ceballos can convincingly mirror Cazorla.